Synopsis of Christmas Party
Nero Wolfe occasionally riles Archie when he takes Archie’s services too much for granted. On Wednesday he tells Archie to change his personal plans of two weeks standing so that he can drive Wolfe to Long Island for a meeting on Friday with an orchid hybridizer. After counting ten, Archie explains that he cannot and will not chauffeur Wolfe on Friday. He has promised his fiancée that he will attend her office Christmas party, at a furniture design studio. To substantiate his claim, Archie shows Wolfe a marriage license, duly signed and executed: the State is willing for Archie Goodwin and Margot Dickey to wed.
Wolfe is incredulous, but hires a limousine to take him to Long Island as Archie attends the party. There, a conversation between Archie and Margot reveals that Margot has been trying to get her employer and paramour, Kurt Bottweill, to quit procrastinating and marry her. She has suggested to Archie, who is no more to her than a friend and dancing partner, that a marriage license might motivate Bottweill to propose and follow through. Archie gave her the license on Thursday, and now Margot tells him that the plan worked perfectly, that she and Bottweill are to marry.
Also attending the party are Bottweill; his business manager Alfred Kiernan; an artisan named Emil Hatch who turns Bottweill’s designs into marketable merchandise; Cherry Quon, an East Asian who is the office receptionist; and Mrs. Perry Jerome and her son – Mrs. Jerome is a wealthy widow who is the source of Bottweill’s business capital. The Bottweill-Jerome business relationship is apparently based on intimacy, which her son Leo is bent on disrupting. Santa Claus is also present, tending bar.
Bottweill starts to toast the season but before he can do so Kiernan interrupts. Everyone has champagne, but Bottweill’s drink is Pernod – he keeps an entire case of it in his office. Kiernan brings Bottweill a glass of Pernod. Bottweill finishes his toast, tosses back the Pernod, and promptly dies of cyanide poisoning.
As Archie is issuing instructions – call the police, don’t touch anything, nobody leave – he notices that Santa has already left. Hatch says no one has left via the elevator, and the only other exit is to Bottweill’s office. There’s nothing unusual there, and Archie pushes a button that calls Bottweill’s private elevator. When it arrives, Archie finds Santa’s wig, mask, jacket and breeches on its floor.
Synopsis taken from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas_Party_(short_story)